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Franchise tag deadline is today

The 49ers won’t use the tag, but their NFC West rivals are expected to join the fray.

Thus far, the NFL Franchise Tag has been used on wide receiver Jarvis Landry by the Miami Dolphins, pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah by the Detroit Lions and pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence by the Dallas Cowboys. The deadline to apply the tag is 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday, March 6. That’s today, if you weren’t aware

Other than those players, who have been officially tagged, the Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to use the franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell, while the Los Angeles Rams seem poised to use theirs on either safety Lamarcus Joyner or wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Last I heard, they weren’t sure which one to use it on, but early reports today have suggested that it’s more likely to be used on Joyner.

Of those two, the San Francisco 49ers would likely be most interested in acquiring the services of Watkins, as there is a need for another wide receiver. But overall, the 49ers could have feasibly been in on every player mentioned in this article if they were to become available.

And the 49ers themselves are not expected to use the tag. There are some prominent pending free agents like safety Eric Reid and running back Carlos Hyde, but the numbers just don’t make sense right now. The 49ers won’t be tagging anybody.

Bell is the most interesting case, because he’ll be getting the tag for the second year in a row, for a 2018 total of $14.544 million, which is higher than the next running back, Devonta Freeman, by a whole lot when it comes to average per year on long-term deals. Bell thinks he’s worth more than that, though, because he’s not just the top running back on the team, he also considers himself the No. 2 receiver. He wants to be paid like it.

He’s threatened to retire if a fair deal can’t get done, but I don’t believe he would do that. Sounds like a bunch of posturing to me. Either way, teams who use the franchise tag will actually have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal with their tagged players, Bell included.